Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says he’s going to retire in the next 12 months.
My colleague, Jay Yarow, is working the phone, talking to sources, coming up with a thought-out story about who should be the next CEO of Microsoft.
In the meantime, let’s all get to what we ALL want to do…let’s throw out some names for who we think should be or could be the next big boss at one of the world’s very most important companies.
I’m going to publish this post before finishing it, and start writing names here.
While I do that, put names in the comments section below.
…Bill Gates! He’s still Microsoft’s biggest shareholder. He’s only 57. He’s going to be on the committee to find a replacement for Ballmer. There has to be some small chance that he surveys what’s out there, and decides that no one else is good enough to take care of his baby.
…Elon Musk?!? A lot of people are tweeting that Tesla CEO Elon Musk should get the job. Cool idea, but he’s too busy re-inventing cars, space travel, and mass transportation. Musk is a mission-driven entrepreneur. So the only way he comes aboard is if Microsoft buys his companies, and that’s not going to happen.
…Steven Sinofsky. Everyone thought Sinofsky was going to be Microsoft’s next CEO until he abruptly left last year. Apparently he didn’t work well with others at the top of Microsoft. Still: he is the guy who saved Windows and turned Office into a powerhouse business. Plus, Gates loves him.
…Marissa Mayer????? I’m getting a lot of tweets suggesting Marissa Mayer. That’s nutty. Mayer is an exceptionally good product executive, sure, but she still has a lot left to prove about her business acumen at Yahoo. Plus, she’s not the type to leave her post that fast. Plus, she’s a Silicon Valley person, not a Seattle person.
…Nikesh Arora. Google’s head of revenue interviewed for the Yahoo CEO job last year, so we know he is looking for a big new job. If Microsoft decides it does not want to hire a CEO whose specialty is product-development, Arora could be the right guy. The problem with Arora is that it’s still pretty easy to look at sales people at Google and think, man, anybody could sell that product.
…Ben Affleck. You people are hilarious. Ben Affleck won’t work. He’s busy. Bruce Wayne, on the other hand…
…Satya Nadella. A reader suggests the VP of Microsoft’s cloud and services group. “He is young; a 21-year veteran of Microsoft; seen and managed most of its businesses; been very successful in anything he has picked up; has the necessary engineering background; a strategic thinker; clear and purpose driven.”
…Scott Forstall. Reader Joe Zou (@zzbar) just mentioned this name, and I agree it’s an exciting one. Forstall was the guy who led iOS development at Apple for years. Like Sinofsky, he got the boot for being hard to get a long with. Forstall would be a good pick if Microsoft wanted to hire a “product visionary” to be its CEO. Jay Yarow thinks Microsoft will pick a sales/partnership CEO like Ballmer, because its future is in the enterprise. This leads us to…
…Mark Hurd. Mark Hurd was in the middle of an amazing run at HP before a sex scandal brought him down. Since he’s been a president at Oracle, and supposedly doing very well. If Microsoft is going to double down on enterprise, he’d be a solid bet.
…Drew Houston. Houston is the CEO of storage-in-the-cloud startup Dropbox. I’m sceptical, because Dropbox has hundreds of employees, and Microsoft has what, 80,000? Still, Buzzfeed’s Matt Lynley argues: “He’s shown to be very good at picking people under him. could find the right guy to manage, focus on vision/product.”
…Sheryl Sandberg. Everyone thinks the Facebook COO is going to take her $US1 billion fortune and make a run at the world of politics. But what if she’s taken a long look at what happened to other tech execs who tried to make a similar and decided to pass? If so, there aren’t that many big jobs in business out there that would suit her better than Microsoft CEO. For her, it would be a promotion. For Microsoft, she’d be at once a safe, but exciting bet.
…Jeff Weiner. Reader (and Sulia CEO) Jonathan Glick tweets that Microsoft has to buy LinkedIn eventually, so it might as well do it now, and make Weiner the new CEO. Glick writes: “Microsoft is an enterprise/work productivity company. As work processes flatten, the global professional directory becomes core.” Weiner would be a great choice. He’s proven to be an excellent operator at LinkedIn, where he has also pushed the product forward aggressively. Unlike some “product visionary” CEOs, Weiner has also kept a close eye on LinkedIn revenues, and they’ve been growing very fast.
…Andy Rubin. Rubin developed Android for Google, making it into the world’s number one operating system. He’s never run a huge organisation and he’s a “product visionary” without experience in revenue development. So he’s a long shot. File in him the same category as Forstall.
…John Scully! Oh boy. You guys and your jokes. Scully was the CEO who replaced Steve Jobs at Apple.
…Kevin Johnson. Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet writes, “Johnson just recently retired as Juniper Networks CEO. Before joining Juniper, Johnson ran Platforms and Services for Microsoft. He retired from that role at Microsoft back in 2008; at the time, it wasn’t clear whether his departure was voluntary.”
…Vic Gundotra. A reader suggestion. Gundotra is the Google VP in charge of Google+, which is considered a success in Mountain View. Gundotra is also a Microsoft veteran. So he’s not an insane pick.
…Ron Johnson. Hoo boy. The lolz. They don’t stop.
…Paul Maritz. In 2011, Matt Rosoff wrote this about the former VMware CEO. “A lot of Microsoft insiders look back at the departure of Paul Maritz in 2000 as the beginning of Microsoft’s brain drain over the last decade. Maritz was influential in Microsoft’s early days, and at one point had control over nearly all Microsoft products, but his duties were gradually reduced after Steve Ballmer became President and later CEO.”
…Tony Bates.The former Skype CEO is a pick amongst insiders. One ex-Microsoftie says: “Quasi external. Consumer+enterprise. Has run a big co before. No bad stuff on resume.”